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Why Do We Fix AI Bias But Ignore Accessibility Bias?

Kalev Leetaru Contributor
AI & Big Data
I write about the broad intersection of data and society.

“As the Web has become increasingly visual, with pages of text replaced by rich high-resolution imagery and video, it has become increasingly inaccessible to those with differing physical abilities who rely on accessibility software like screen readers.”

Silicon Valley has become obsessed with addressing AI bias. As deep learning algorithms have graduated from the academic research lab into the real world, there has become a growing awareness of the implications of their innate biases as their limited Western training data has collided spectacularly with a globalized digital world.

How Charities Can Meet the New Digital Accessibility Standards

Charities are legally responsible for meeting accessibility standards online, but most don’t. Digital accessibility expert Carlos Eriksson of Studio 24 explains what they can do to fix it, starting now. Guest Writer | 20th Jun 19

Carlos Eriksson is Accessibility Lead Developer at Studio 24. Eriksson was named ‘Champion of Change’ in the 2019 BIMA 100 which recognises the top 100 digital movers and shakers, thanks to his decade-long work making the web better for everyone.

In the past couple of years, accessibility has gone from being an afterthought at best, to an often spoken about subject at conferences and water coolers alike.

Disabled Musicians are Being ‘Failed by Venues’

By Mark Savage
BBC Music reporter
9 May 2019

Last year, Ruth Patterson’s band Holy Moly and the Crackers tried to book a tour of the UK.

But one venue wrote back, refusing to host them because Patterson, who has arthritis and Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, uses a wheelchair.

“They said they wouldn’t book us because I was a fire hazard,” she says. “That’s absolutely horrendous.”

The singer is not alone. A new survey suggests disabled musicians face significant barriers in UK venues.

Of the nearly 100 deaf and disabled performers surveyed by Attitude Is Everything, two-thirds said they had to “compromise their health or wellbeing” in order to play live.

The Coming Web Crack-Up

Apr 21, 2019
Peter Slatin
Contributor

Diversity & Inclusion I write about undoing norms that inhibit success for disabled people.

This post is the first in a series on web accessibility.

Remember the bumper stickers that read, If You Can Read This, You’re Too Close? Yeah, danger ahead. Well, as America races down the cyber-highway, we should be on the lookout for a pile-up, because despite warning signs (as in a blizzard of web-accessibility lawsuits, up almost 200% last year from 2017) everywhere, people with disabilities just aren’t going to be able to move past the many obstacles heedless developers and designers are putting in their way.

Blind People Can Struggle to Understand Memes, So They Made Their Own

Screen-reading software allows visually impaired people to use the internet, but it hits a wall when it comes to memes.

In January, a photo of a woman holding a probing cane and looking at a phone went viral on Facebook after the poster implied that the subject was faking blindness given that she was clearly able to see her phone screen. Though the image was shared thousands of times by people who believed the joke, commenters were eventually informed of the reality, which is that blind people and people with low vision depend on their phones just as much as anyone else.

Legal Battle Over Captioning Continues

A legal dispute over video captions continues after court rejects requests by MIT and Harvard University to dismiss lawsuits accusing them of discriminating against deaf people. By Lindsay McKenzie
April 8, 2019

Two high-profile civil rights lawsuits filed by the National Association of the Deaf against Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology are set to continue after requests to dismiss the cases were recently denied for the second time.

The two universities were accused by the NAD in 2015 of failing to make their massive open online courses, guest lectures and other video content accessible to people who are deaf or hard of hearing.

Court Ruling Further Clarifies ADA Website Accessibility Obligations

Conn Maciel Carey LLP
USA February 21 2019

Over the past several years, we have written extensively about employers’ obligations to make their websites accessible for individuals with visual, hearing and physical impairments. In the past, we have counseled employers who are considered a “place of public accommodation” (such as a hotel, restaurant, place of recreation, doctor’s office, etc.) to at the very least do some due diligence to determine whether their websites are accessible for disabled users, so that those individuals can use and navigate those websites and/or purchase goods sold on

Phones Still Aren’t Quite Right for People With Disabilities

February 18th, 2019
Posted by John Toon-Georgia Tech

Mobile phones are increasingly more accessible for people with disabilities, but there are still some significant gaps in service, according to a new study.

Researchers compared 2017 model year phones capable of receiving Wireless Emergency Alert notifications a category that includes most top-tier phones to 2015 versions and found improved accessibility across 10 of 13 features.

However, phones offered through the federally subsidized Lifeline program for low-income people fell short in nearly every category when compared to phones offered through traditional wireless plans.

Copy Machines Being Upgraded for Accessibility

The University of Tennessee, Knoxville
Feb. 15, 2019

Copy machines capable of producing documents accessible to those with low vision or other sight impairment will soon be in place at 11 locations across campus. It’s the start of a campaign to ensure these machines are readily available for the campus community.

When scanning a document, most copy machines produce a PDF image that’s undecipherable to screen-reading technologies. The new functionality allows copiers to scan a document to create a PDF file that can be read by these technologies using optical character recognition, or OCR.

Our Biased Web: Why Don’t We Care About Making The Web Accessible For All?

Kalev Leetaru
AI & Big Data I write about the broad intersection of data and society.

As society has increasingly awoken to the dangers of algorithmic bias in the machine learning and AI systems that underlie an ever-greater portion of our lives, it is notable that for all of the attention and funding being focused on AI bias, there has been in comparison a deafening silence on the topic of accessibility bias.

As the web rushes ever faster towards a multimedia-first existence, why is it that there is comparatively so little conversation about making this content accessible to those with differing physical abilities?

Siri on the ReSound Linx Quattro Smart Hearing Aid a First for AI voice Control

Next stop: integrating with Google Assistant.
Jessica Dolcourt
January 9, 2019

“Hey Siri, stream iTunes through my hearing aid.” That’s just one of many things you can do with the ReSound Linx Quattro, the first smart hearing aid to use AI to pair with Apple’s Siri assistant.

Smart hearing aids are part of a burgeoning field of gadgets set to transform the health care industry. For the Linx Quattro, that means drawing people with hearing impairment further into their digital world.

The Linx Quattro uses AI to learn your preferences and settings over time, and to proactively make adjustments to various sound profiles. You’ll be able to ask Siri to change profiles with voice commands (e.g. turn up the volume in my left ear).

Compass Slapped With Lawsuit Over Website Access for the Blind

Discrimination lawsuit highlights legal risk for brokerages that don’t comply with Americans with Disabilities Act by Teke Wiggin Staff Writer
Dec 28

Compass is being sued for allegedly failing to make its website fully accessible to blind people, raising the specter that real estate brokerages remain exposed to a legal risk about which the National Association of Realtors had previously warned members.

The suit, which is seeking class-action status and was filed on Dec. 12 in a New York district court, accuses Compass of violating the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) for “its failure to design, construct, maintain, and operate its website to be fully accessible to and independently usable by Plaintiff and other blind or visually-impaired people.”

CRTC Mandates Standards for TTY, IP Relay Accessibility Messaging Services

Individuals who are deaf, hard-of-hearing or deafblind will soon have access to faster, better message relay services By Sameer Chhabra
Dec 14, 2018

Canada’s telecommunications watchdog has issued a decision mandating standards for message relay services.

According to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission’s (CRTC) December 14th, 2018 decision, groups that provide text-based message relay services (MRS) like teletypewriter relay (TTY) and internet protocol relay (IP relay) will be required to implement quality of service standards, as well as a standard for call answer time and typing speed.

As per the CRTC’s latest telecom decision, 80 percent of all calls each months will need to be responded to by a live MRS operator within 20 seconds.

Instagram Improving Accessibility for Users with Visual Impairments

New features include “alternative text” to provide descriptions for pics. by Gordon Gottsegen
November 28, 2018

On Wednesday, Instagram announced new features intended to provide a better experience for people with vision impairments.

Instagram is introducing automatic alternative text, which lets you hear descriptions of pictures when using Instagram with a screen reader. The automatic alternative text uses object recognition tech to generate a list of things that may appear in the photo, helping people know what they’re looking at.

Instagram also lets you create your own alternative text. When posting a photo, you’ll be able to go into the Advanced Settings and add your own alt text, which can be heard when using a screen reader.

The Internet Is An Unwelcoming Place to the Disabled

There’s already a blueprint for a more accessible internet. If only designers would learn it.
By Anne Quito•November 15, 2018

The internet can be a hostile space for 15% of the world’s population who experience some form of disability.

Try navigating a website as someone who is visually impaired: Turn on voice command on your computer (Command ? + F5 if you’re on a Mac, enable Navigator if you’re on a PC) and go to Amazon’s Kindle store. You’ll quickly find out that those who rely on voice commands can’t skip around and are doomed to listen to every notation about every page element before getting to the one piece of information they need.

Class Action Lawsuit Filed Against Medi-Cal

Date Filed: 10/22/2018

On October 18, 2018, Disability Rights Advocates(DRA) and a coalition of blind advocates filed a class action lawsuit in Federal Court against the California Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) and its county agents for failing to provide Medi-Cal notices in accessible formats, such as Braille.

The plaintiffs are the California Council of the Blind and three individuals; co-counsel is the Disability Rights and Education Fund and Disability Rights California. Read the complaint at the link below.

Feds Prod Universities to Address Website Accessibility

Universities are under legal pressure to make their websites fully accessible to people with disabilities, but is “fully” even possible? By Lindsay McKenzie
November 6, 2018

Hundreds of colleges and universities across the country are currently under investigation by the Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights for failing to make their websites accessible to people with disabilities.

Universities that receive federal financial aid are required by law to make reasonable accommodations to ensure their web content is accessible to everyone, including, but not limited to, people who are blind, deaf or have limited mobility.

WPCampus is Pursuing an Independent Accessibility Audit of Gutenberg

Editors Note: As a member of the Accessibility Team that tested Gutenberg I can tell you at the time I tested it, it was garbage and totally inaccessible to me and my screen reader, if your company has any employees who use assistive devices, do not upgrade until they fix it .

?Sarah Gooding October 25, 2018

WPCampus is looking to hire a company to perform an accessibility audit of the Gutenberg editor. The organization is a community of more than 800 web professionals, educators, and others who work with WordPress in higher education. WPCampus director Rachel Cherry published a request for proposals detailing the organization’s specific concerns:

Surrey to Build World’s First Translation System for British Sign Language

Originally Published: 03 October 2018

The worlds first machine capable of turning British Sign Language (BSL) into written English is set to be built by the University of Surrey as part of a project funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council.

BSL is a language in its own right, with its own grammar, and it is very different from English. BSL uses several parts of the body simultaneously to fully express a range phrases, ideas and emotions.

Deaf Canadians ‘At Risk’ in Times of National Emergency

Other countries have on-screen interpreters during news broadcasts Sherry Noik, CBC News, September 27, 2018.

When the next ice storm, wildfire or terror attack happens, Canadians who are deaf or hard of hearing will be in greater peril than others because most public notification systems are not accessible to them, experts say.

The Canadian Hearing Society estimates there are 3.15 million Canadians who are hard of hearing and 340,000 Canadians who are deaf, including an estimated 11,000 who are deaf-blind. In policy and in practice, Canada lags behind other countries in ensuring their safety in an emergency.